WILLIAMSON – At a regular meeting of the Mingo County Commission held Wednesday, Feb. 3 the Commission voted to approve a Memorandum of Understanding to support a financial contribution to the Southwestern Regional Day Report Program on the condition that funds are available.
Commissioner John Mark Hubbard welcomed the Day Report representatives to the meeting.
The representatives introduced their selves and presented a summary report to the commission. Present at the meeting were the Regional Director, Assistant Regional Director, and the Mingo County day report officer.
The first representative to speak was the Regional Director Michelle Akers. She discussed how the day report program has grown in Mingo Country. “The day report in Mingo County has grown by leaps and bounds this year. As of Jan. 15, there are 119 offenders on our case load in Mingo County. That is the most the day report center has ever had and we are very proud to be working with 119 of Mingo Counties citizens. Our staff has grown tremendously in Mingo County. We employ a master’s level therapist. We contract with a licensed psychologist and we have a bachelor’s level therapist that provides services. In addition to that, we have hired two drug screeners, a day report officer, a community services supervisor and an administrative assistant. Your day report is fully staffed with both a therapeutic team and a support team,” Akers explained.
Akers continued, describing how data studies indicate success for the program in Mingo County. “Our outcome studies show that we have been successful in working with the individuals that we have provided services to. Most importantly, I believe that expenses saved for your county speaks for itself. With 119 offenders on our case load, if those persons were jailed in the regional jail, it would cost your county $178,500 per month to keep them housed in the jail. By using alternative sentencing, with the cooperation of the prosecuting attorney and the probation department, and Judge Thompson, we have saved the county a lot of money in the last year.”
“Today, we are here to ask for your support in the upcoming grant year. I am going to let Justin speak for a second about what other services we have given to the county this year,”Akers said.
The Assistant Regional Director took over stating, “When we do community services, they see the clients that we have; they seem them out doing community service and paying back to the community. I was so impressed. This county alone has the most community service hours that they have ever had this year; 6,826 community service hours just in 2015. The most impressive of that is how many bags of trash they have picked up in this county; 18,720 bags of trash in this county alone. Let me tell you right now, that is more than the other counties combined. It is an impressive statistic.”
He continued stating, “When we do this service; we do it at no cost for the county. If we were doing it at minimum wage for those hours; we would be doing it at the equivalent of $54,608…We are always open for doing community service or all nonprofit agencies, anything that the county requests. We want to make Mingo County look great. We want to clean up our clients and clean up the county itself…”
Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith commended the success of the day report program in Mingo County. “I thought Mingo County would be overlooked. We were participating in the day report system but we were not fully staffed and we did not really have the services. It was too full and the day report board was reluctant to put staff and funding in this area when the clients weren’t there. It didn’t make sense to have as we have now: five employees in the day report system and a contractual psychologist. That is six people that are working as a result of the day report board…”
Smith then asked the representatives to explain the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and their grant process.
“The grant that we apply for is the West Virginia Community Corrections Grant. That is basically our funding source that keeps our day reports open. Again, we are a four county day report :Mingo, Logan, Boone and Lincoln counties. The grant cap is $600,000… Last year, we received, $536,750. What happens with that money is: the four counties combined are responsible for a 30 percent match on top of that amount. What we do is divide the 30 percent match among the four counties. This year, Mingo County paid $57.509 across this grant year. The purpose of the MOU today is for our upcoming grant year which begins in July. It is basically, a MOU stating that you agree to support the match for the following grant year and to provide the day report with space to operate,” Akers said.
Smith responded stating, “Unfortunately, I would ask that you put in this memorandum…As you know, our budgets have not been meeting expectations and it has been free falling even with the tightest restraints. I want to see the county participate in day report, it is a great service….but would it be a problem to add a caveat, that the county agrees to participate depending on the financial conditions on the county…”
Following a discussion, Smith made a motion to approve the Memorandum on the condition that funds are available in the fiscal year 2016. “If they balk on you based on that condition; come back and let us know,” Smith said.
Commissioner Diann Hannah spoke next stating, “We want to keep this program going. It is working well for people that are small time crime that don’t need to be in jail but need some form of ‘don’t do this again.”
The Commission then voted on the motion and it was approved unanimously.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)